Joan Feierabend

Joan Feierabend


AVA Gallery and Art Center is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition, Joan Feierabend: Multitudes, October 6-November 4, 2023 in The Linda Roesch Visual Arts Gallery. Opening reception, Friday, October 6, 5-7PM, an informal talk at 6PM.

For this exhibition Joan Feierabend considered, “Would viewers have a different experience looking if they were able to own a painting and not worry about the cost?” An experiment was formulated. This exhibition recalls a “happening,” a throwback to the 1960s and 1970s– when AVA began. The audience is invited to name their price for purchasing an artwork, and the artist will generously donate all proceeds to support AVA. There is great freedom in choice and by eliminating economic barrier, as well as a responsibility to honor the art and artist, and to honor AVA. “I have experimented with ways to distribute my art and give it a life of its own: viewer choice, no cost restrictions, and fundraising for a good cause have been my goal.” Fifty years ago, Feierabend regularly attended AVA’s life drawing sessions; this dedication led to a regular art practice in her studio. In the early days, she was primarily interested in using the figure in her work; she explored the face in expression and character. Remnants of that period have found their way into this exhibit.

For thirty-two years, art has been Joan Feierabend’s daily practice, “I have long recognized that my paintings are wiser than I am. When a painting tells me where it wants to go, I do my best to follow.” Working with multiple layers, she tinted each surface with color and removed paint by pressing a crumpled cloth onto the surface, creating a sort of “blot”– an interruption akin to the way unforeseen events can imprint a life. Each painting took many days of layering in this way. Materials used include acrylic paint, ink, pencil, colored pencil, charcoal, pastel, and gold leaf. Her tools were brushes, spatulas, pens, stencils, tape, sponges, wadded cloth, paper, and baby wipes.

Fond of the verse, “I contain multitudes.” in Walt Whitman’s poem, “Leaves of Grass”, Feierabend believes this to be true of us all. “We all contain contradictions…the complexity that every human being brings to the art– including the artist, speaks to our unique selves.” She recognizes that viewers may experience multitudes of contradictions while making selections as they will no doubt waver between the diverse choices offered.

Profound conversations with a work of art are usually a solitary experience. Public spaces don’t often allow privacy for original art to have this type of communion with a viewer. Feierabend’s intention is for her artwork to have an opportunity to catch the viewer’s gaze and allow a powerful bond to occur. “We learn from our association with art objects; I hope you will feel a connection to the art and perhaps inspire greater opportunity for union to the complexities of life– which art offers.” 

In the ongoing celebration of AVA’s 50th year, the artist will generously donate all proceeds to support AVA.

Biography: Joan Feierabend was born in Poughkeepsie, NY, in 1943, the youngest of 3 girls. Her early years were spent on a small dairy farm in Red Hook, NY. Her older sisters were excellent students, but she considers her child self a dreamer who drifted into art very early in life. She received her BFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY and began a teaching career immediately after graduation. She received an MFA from Vermont College, Montpelier, VT in 1993. She retired from teaching in 2007. Originally, she focused on figurative work from life, but eventually turned more towards intuitive non-objective decisions. Curious to understand the origins of her instinctive results, she began using a pendulum to guide everything from materials and color to composition. In 2015, armed with years of daily practice using visual references as well as intuitive and dowsed response, she turned to layering paint with random mark-making as prompts for the start of each painterly journey.

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